Calling the (un)caped crypto crusaders! (via Pixabay)
Cryptocurrencies,  Technology

Student crypto crime-fighting league forms

Cryptocurrency intelligence firm CipherTrace will provide education and tracking tools to students for hands-on training solving real thefts and scams

Cryptocurrency intelligence firm CipherTrace has announced a program to equip and train college students to investigate cryptocurrency scam and fraud cases.

CipherTrace teamed up with the student-founded Blockchain Acceleration Foundation in California and Mexico, as well as the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Calif., and Middlesex University, London, to create the CipherTrace Defenders League, the Santa Barbara-based firm said in a release today.

The rather splendiferously named group will provide undergraduate and graduate students with training, software, and certifications to enable them to trace cryptocurrency thefts and fraud, as well as help recover assets. 

By the end of September, there had been $4.4 billion worth of cryptocurrency lost to theft and scams in 2019 alone, CipherTrace reported

The company is only one of several recent examples of cryptocurrency and blockchain firms reaching out to universities to help create and fund blockchain education.

On Jan. 2, Nikolai Mushegian, a former chief architect of the MakerDAO project, donated $1.4 million worth of MKR to fund graduate research in the decentralized finance field at Carnegie Mellon university. 

Blockchain and cryptocurrency accelerator and venture capital firm MouseBelt recently donated $1 million to three top University of California campuses to help create formal courses and fund research projects in the industry. In October, the company expanded its MouseBelt University program after partnering with 13 firms and organizations including the Stellar Development Foundation, TRON, and Hedera Hashgraph.

Capeless crusaders

The students will focus on small losses that are typically ignored by law enforcement agencies, gaining both experience and class credit. To support the initiative, CipherTrace has donated $4.3 million worth of its full commercial cryptocurrency forensics and tracking software, as well as free CipherTrace Certified Examiner Training, or CTCE, courses. 

“We’ve experienced a significant increase in requests for investigative and analytic support for fraud and theft cases,” Pam Clegg, the director of investigations and education for CipherTrace, said in the release “The CipherTrace Defenders League will be an elite corps of blockchain-knowledgeable students who can conduct smaller-scale investigations. Their objective will be to produce actionable intelligence and evidence that can be used to recover stolen funds and ultimately prosecute those criminal actors responsible for the losses.”

CipherTrace will hold CTCE training courses in Monterey and London. The courses are part of a larger round of cryptocurrency-tracking boot camps CipherTrace announced recently. Others will be held in Frankfurt, Singapore, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.

The Middlebury Institute’s Financial Crime Management master’s degree program “aims to equip the next generation of compliance and intelligence professionals with the most state-of-the-art skill set,” Professor Moyara Ruehsen of the graduate school, which is part of Vermont’s Middlebury College, said in a statement “The CipherTrace Defenders League provides our students with hands on experience researching and solving live financial crime cases using cutting-edge tools, allowing them to hone their skills while also performing a valuable service.”

The Blockchain Acceleration Federation member schools include UCLA, USC, and Caltech, as well as the National Autonomous University of Mexico

“The students of the Blockchain Acceleration Foundation are passionate, educated and motivated to help grow the crypto economy,” said Cameron Dennis, president and founder of the Blockchain Acceleration Foundation. “This will provide students valuable real-world blockchain analytics experience using industry leading cryptocurrency tools to help victims recover stolen and scammed funds.”

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Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus editor-in-chief, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about incentive travel. He has also covered consumer and employee engagement, small business, the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson has put some 401k money into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.